Wheels Within Wheels…and Fires Within Fires

Written by Jan Greenhawk, Editor of Radio Free Oxford

This is a slight revision and a republishing of a blog I wrote a year ago.

Arthur Miller’s story of betrayal and false accusations mirrors today’s events.

As a high school teacher, I had my students read Arthur Miller’s THE CRUCIBLE. It’s an amazing play about the Salem Witch Trials.

I confess. I dreaded teaching it the first time I taught it. For some reason, I found it dry and boring when I was initially exposed to it in high school. I guess my 16 year old self couldn’t see the significance of something that happened back in the 1600’s. I also felt the same way about most of Shakespeare’s works. As an English major in college, I consciously avoided his works. What the heck was wrong with me?

When I began teaching high school towards the last quarter of my thirty year career, I had to deal with both. And I suddenly discovered the importance and significance of these works. Maturity and life experience as well as the times gave me a quick head slap. My eyes suddenly opened!

Currently, our situation in the world seems to closely relate to many pieces of literature, but in a conversation this morning THE CRUCIBLE came back to me via a comment from a friend.

If you don’t know or haven’t read the play, do so. If you hate reading, find the 1996 movie starring Daniel Day Lewis and Winona Ryder. It’s a very good version. To summarize, it is about the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 and how young girls were able to lie and cause the death of multiple residents by accusing those residents of being witches. At the time, being accused of being a witch guaranteed a death sentence and there was almost no defense a person could use to deny the charge. When Arthur Miller wrote the play in 1953, he was in the middle of McCarthyism and the “Red Scare” that led to many people being accused of being Communists, fairly or not.

When I would teach the play, my students were often baffled about why anyone would listen to these teenaged girls who were clearly making the whole thing up. They also didn’t understand why anyone would turn on the neighbors they had known and been friends with for years. My students have no first hand knowledge of how or why that would happen. “Why didn’t the adults step in? How could they believe something so crazy?” they asked.

And of course they hated the antagonist, Abigail, because she caused it all to become John Proctor’s wife. She was trying to get Proctor’s wife out of the way.

They also didn’t understand that the adults judging the alleged witches had other motives, namely money, power, vengeance. They didn’t have enough experience to know that many times these are the motives for corruption and evil.

Those motives were the wheels within wheels, the fires within fires in the village. That quote was uttered by a character named Mrs. Putnam, someone who tried to warn people that witchcraft should not be the authorities’ go to explanation for odd things happening in the village. (* Note that in the Bible, Ezekiel 10:10, an object in the sky is described as having “a wheel within a wheel.” This quote has been used by the Ancient Aliens crowd as proof of UFO’s even back then.)

We could definitely use that phrase today. Someone should call Q immediately!

In fact, we could probably rewrite THE CRUCIBLE today if we wanted to. I can use many different national and local officials in the major roles. The teenaged girls are the Marxists, making up lies to get attention and power. The judges are the government agencies, FBI, CIA, IRS, DOJ etc. charging people with crimes based on little or no evidence and ruining their lives. And let’s not forget the CDC, FDA, and WHO. Abigail is played by several women in the national spotlight, Kamala Harris, Jill Biden, and Nancy Pelosi. They are women who will do whatever they have to in order to get what they want. (Although if you ask me, Pelosi would find herself accused of witchcraft eventually. And it would be a legit accusation.)

If you wonder where Joe Biden is in this, well, there are no parts for the incapacitated in the play. Besides, he would screw up his lines.

One other character, Tituba, the slave who was the first accused, why she would be played by every minority who thinks the Marxist Democrats are on their side. As Tituba discovered, minorities are just tools in their plan to ruin this country.

The innocent victims, the preyed upon and falsely accused, why they would be played by the 75 + million citizens who voted for Trump, the unvaccinated who dared question the government’s heinous push to a harmful vaccine, and the parents who dare go against Marxist, power hungry school boards. And, in the role of John Proctor, the hero of the play, those who have lost their jobs and livelihoods over their principles.

It’s just another story of unjust accusation and persecution. And like THE CRUCIBLE, the cost will be in human terms as people lose everything they have or as they die. And there will be nothing done until after the destruction is over and people finally wake up to the horrible scam the Marxists and the Biden regime has perpetrated.

And just because you may think that the party many of us have supported for years, the Republicans, are any better, think again. Like the judges in the Crucible, Republicans have given into their lust for power and money. In some ways, it’s the worse betrayal. They know what they are doing is wrong but are doing it anyway!

The saddest part of all is that many of us are living through THE CRUCIBLE in our cities and towns. Our neighbors, our friends, even our family, have not only turned their backs on us, but they are also joining in the accusations. I have friends who tell me they can no longer see their children and grandchildren because of political beliefs or vaccine status. Many of us ask who among our neighbors would stand up for us if we were attacked, cancelled, and/or “relocated.” It’s not a comforting realization when we realize it might be no one.

There is a silver lining, something that the victims in THE CRUCIBLE didn’t have. Many of us, including me, have found new friends, new family. We have discovered people out there who are like us, almost soul mates, in our desire for freedom and the core principles of this country. These new friends would stand up with us in times of trouble, and we with them.

I’ve met people I would never have met before, and we have become good friends. We’re from many different walks of life, but we have been brought together either through fate or divine intervention. That’s how it is in times of national stress.

Many of us have also rediscovered our faith.

At the end of THE CRUCIBLE, John Proctor is given the opportunity to admit his “guilt” and avoid being hanged. They give him a confession to sign and he signs it and then tears it up. He would confess but not sign a confession. Without the signed confession, they will still hang him. The judges and elders, shocked, ask him why he tears it up. His response:

” Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!”

Proctor, for pride, for his own integrity, will not sign a false confession merely to save his life. He doesn’t want to dishonor the others who died because they stood on principle.

Yeah, this applies in a symbolic way to today. We won’t give up our principles, our freedoms, our “names.” Ever.

They are too important. We cannot live without the basic values of this country. We cannot have another country like this in our lives or in the lives of our children.

Jan can be reached at radiofreeoxford.com

© Janet L. Greenhawk and Radio Free Oxford, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janet L. Greenhawk and Radio Free Oxford with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

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The Poster and Why it is a Problem

A Poster Condoning Racial Divisiveness Must be Removed from the Walls of Our Schools

By Jan Greenhawk, Editor and Writer, Radio Free Oxford

The first time I saw this poster (shown below), I was already retired from the school system after thirty years teaching. I was mentoring new teachers as a subcontractor when I saw it hanging on the wall in a classroom. It is still present on the walls of our schools in Talbot County.

Some important background is as one of my many jobs in the county, I spent a great deal of time on a committee that addressed the minority achievement gap in our schools. As Coordinator of Staff Development, I brought in speakers, workshops etc. to help us solve the problem. I participated in some of the workshops and I even brought in Janice Hale, who was a very controversial speaker, to talk about teaching minority children. If you don’t know who she was, you’ll find her books on Amazon.

I tell you this so you understand that at some point in my career I was convinced that how we taught minority children was the problem. Maybe if we just did things a little differently, they would do better. What might have been better was to examine how we taught ALL children, because the needle on minority achievement NEVER moved despite all the focus.

Children should never be taught as members of racial, ethnic, gender, economic groups. Children should always be taught as individuals. This is the true struggle for teachers, especially when they are faced with classes of twenty to thirty individuals. all needing something slightly different. Elementary teachers have their children all day long and have a better shot at doing this. Even so, the age of their students and the volume of content they need to teach makes it almost impossible. Middle and High School teachers generally have 45 to 90 minutes to accomplish this feat. Again, practically impossible.

Important in the equation but forgotten is that teachers are also individuals with all of their traits and quirks. Like students, teachers shouldn’t be looked at solely as members of racial, ethnic, gender, or economic groups.

And yet, as the poster shown below indicates, that is exactly what the school system did and is doing now if they are following the directions on the poster

With all that, when I saw the poster, I was immediately shocked. I went through many of the equity workshops we had in the school system before I retired. In those workshops we spoke about cultural differences very frankly in order to let us know all the built-in biases each of us has. All groups were part of the discussions; our strengths, our weaknesses, the truths and the fallacies about us. We talked, and often laughed about, stereotypes we had about others and them about us.

It was all about understanding and working together. It was never about blaming anyone or singling out one race, ethnicity, etc. for all the problems. Sometime after I retired, the focus of those training sessions changed to blame more than understanding.

Are there teachers who are biased against Black kids? Absolutely. Are there teachers who are biased against White kids? Yes. Or Hispanic kids? Yes. Or Gay kids? Yes. I could go on and on. And no matter how much you try to change that, bias will exist. All we can do is prevent people from acting on their biases. The solutions usually presented are not based on anything but emotion and are often non-productive and even ridiculous. I remember a time when we had to count how many times a teacher called on different subgroups of students and put that on observations. Teachers were once told they would be evaluated on how many students in subgroups passed their classes as compared to other kids. There were no provisions for the students themselves, how they worked, what they did. Neither of these policies made a hair’s breadth of difference in minority achievement.

And this poster implied that the problems were all because of one group. I’ve been told it was created after a staff diversity training. I guess the “diversity” part didn’t apply to everyone. Let’s take a good look at what it says.

*There are other versions of this poster. They are shown at the end of this post.

The first four agreements are not bad, although I would say that the word “truth” is misused. Truth is truth. The first phrase should be “Speak your experience “or maybe “Tell us about your life.” It’s one thing for me to tell you what happened to me in my life. Some of what I tell you may be factual, but some may be my interpretation of what happened or “my truth.” Unless someone was standing beside me recording the incident, we can’t be sure this “truth” is the actual truth of the situation. I can use it as an experience that shaped me as a person, but to call it truth is to misuse the word to garner social standing and imply victimhood. It also releases the person stating the truth from ever having to look at things from a different point of view or take responsibility for their own actions.

The other one of the first four agreements that concerns me is “experience discomfort.” In today’s climate in classrooms, I think that discomfort is not always something we should demand from our teachers or students. To do so is to deny that people have different beliefs, and those beliefs are valid, whether we agree or not. If a female student is uncomfortable about biological males being in the girls’ locker room, she should not have to experience that discomfort. To demand she do so is child abuse. If a White student is uncomfortable being called a racist for no other reason than skin color, then that student should not be forced to experience that any more than a Black student should be forced to feel uncomfortable when called a racial slur.

Perhaps the better precept is to “expect disagreement.” There is nothing wrong with sharing different opinions and teaching students how to react and discuss them civilly. That’s how true understanding occurs.

Next, we have the “6 Conditions.” This is where the majority of the problems in the poster are. Five of the six conditions center around “race” or “racial” discussions. I know the common belief among Progressives is that race is at the center of everything. It is also well known that Marxists have often used concepts such as race to divide populations so they can be controlled. Right off the bat, these conditions are problematic because they disclose an agenda that has nothing to do with student achievement, individual needs or even students getting along with each other. It’s about division and blame based on uncontrollable conditions.

This section of the poster shows that we are now at the point where race is how we decide to teach children. Not individual strengths, weaknesses, talents, circumstances, sound pedagogical practice, data etc. just race. Race is king! That, in itself, is racist. And it’s ineffective based on recent test scores which are abysmal for all groups.

The biggest indicator of the racism in the poster, and the biggest problem with it, is the last condition; “examine the presence and role of whiteness.”

In that one statement, the creators have made one race, one surface characteristic, one stereotype, the scapegoat for all the ills that may occur in the classroom. It goes on; ” examine the presence and role of whiteness, its impact on the conversation, and the problem being addressed.” See that? Whiteness is responsible for “the problem being addressed.”

It also raises many questions. Whose Whiteness? The teacher’s? The students’? The Principal’s? How about the Board of Education? Whose Whiteness is present? Does it only apply if a certain percentage of the class is White? Is Whiteness just a big old cloud hanging over the school? What exactly is it? Because just like other races, all White people do NOT all have the same characteristics. To say that Whiteness is something that applies to all White people is racist and stupid. Imagine the White child in the classroom trying to learn while burdened with the idea that he/she is hurting others merely by existing.

For a moment let’s alter this poster with any other racial or sexual identity in the place of “whiteness.” Can you imagine the outcry if we blamed Blacks, Hispanics, Gay people, etc. for having a “presence in the classroom” and having an impact on what is going wrong and for how the “problem is addressed”? There would be major protests and nightly news coverage with pundits discussing the problem. People would be fired and probably arrested!

To be sure, there are always individuals in any class, any group, who are responsible for problems. In my thirty years, they came from all groups and not one group more than another. Sometimes they were students, sometimes they were teachers.

So maybe we should deal with individuals on a case-by-case basis. Maybe we shouldn’t just assume that any subgroup is the problem but that humans in general have flaws that will create chaos in any situation. Maybe we should teach our children to truly accept others and be kind. And could we PLEASE focus on academics without the artificially created distractions.

I don’t know who created the poster. I don’t care why they created it. Quite frankly I am shocked that it is still hanging in the schools considering that fact that this is posted on the Talbot County Public Schools web page:


It seems to me that if that is indeed the commitment of the schools, the poster above is a contradiction of what TCPS says. Calling out one race as the issue violates the statement about the commitment of TCPS to “promoting the worth and dignity of all individuals.” If you are being identified as the problem because of your race, you don’t have worth or dignity. In fact, you are now the target of derision and scorn.

This poster has NO business hanging on the walls of our schools, regardless of who created it, why it was created, or who may insist that it stays.

It is racist and it is divisive.

If the schools are truly interested in helping all children achieve, then this poster does nothing to make that happen. It just allows people to duck accountability, scapegoat others, and leave our schools in divided chaos.

The strength of this country has always been in our individuality and the idea that each person is valuable in his/her own right. Our schools need to have the same belief.

It is imperative that the Board of Education of the Talbot County Public Schools, in accordance with their stated mission, remove this poster and any poster that is racially divisive, regardless of who wants it posted.

Jan can be reached at radiofreeoxford.com

*Note: When I saw the poster during my time mentoring I shared it on social media. I was basically told to “mind my own business and not share the information since it was in the school building and the public had no right to see it. ” If I did, I would no longer be a teacher mentor. I stopped being a teacher mentor. Silly me, I thought taxpayers supported the schools and had a right to see it.

© Janet L. Greenhawk and Radio Free Oxford, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Janet L. Greenhawk and Radio Free Oxford with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

A simpler poster, same racist message

We recently verified the presence of these and other similar posters on the walls of our Talbot County Schools.

Thanks for commenting!!

Teachers are Not the Only “Experts”

by Jan Greenhawk – Editor, Radio Free Oxford

This Myth is Destroying Education in the United States

Look at this Tweet:

This is from the National Education Association. If you’ll remember, this is the Teachers’ Union that has hundreds of millions in assets and spends 91% of those assets on activities other than teacher labor issues or education of children. But, hey, they care.

If you are a parent and you have read this tweet, I hope you are angry about it. The National Education Association claims that a public employee knows more and cares more about your child than you do.

I taught for thirty years. And for most of those years, almost every faculty meeting was spent talking about how to get parents more involved in their child’s education. It was about partnering with parents, honoring their values, etc. Teachers know the importance of parents in educating children and that parents are a child’s best advocate and, in many cases, teacher.

I guess that’s over.

Why is that?

In 2020 something happened that changed the way that parents saw their child’s education. The pandemic forced schools into virtual mode and suddenly parents saw what was going on in the classroom. They were not happy. Not only did they see that some teachers had no clue about content or how to teach, but they were spending time indoctrinating students into political, sexual, and racist ideology. They also saw that the Teachers’ Unions were the ones who wanted schools kept closed.

So, thinking that the schools, administrations, and Boards of Education cared about their opinions, the parents spoke out in principal’s and superintendent’s offices and at school board meetings. They demanded access to instructional materials and lessons. For the most part, they were ignored.

Some of them ran for School Board and other public office. Others formed groups like Moms for Liberty and No Left Turn in Education.

The Unions didn’t like that. You may wonder why.

The Teachers Unions are not about helping teachers or students. They are about power and political influence. They have hundreds of millions in assets and yet spend less than 10 cents per dollar on their stated mission. They spend the other part of each dollar on donations to politicians, lobbying, eliciting business for companies they get kickbacks from, perks and high salaries for their top tier employees.

Until parents start paying membership dues, the Teachers Unions have no need to court them. Instead, they lobby the Department of Education and State Departments of Education for district budgets to get so bloated that more teachers and other affiliated classroom personnel can be hired. Remember, Unions get money from many different school employees, not just teachers. So, if they can get more school psychologists, counselors, classroom aides, etc. they can increase their war chest even more. Involved, outspoken parents and taxpayers just get in the way of this.

If they are going to make money, they have to convince the general public that the only experts on educating children are their members.

They are doing a great job with that message. They even have willing partners to help them spread it. At a recent county council forum, one of the candidates said, “We must trust the experts, the teachers, with the education of our children.” He is a parent with children in school. I wonder if he would agree with that statement if one of those “experts” taught his child something he violently disagreed with? Would he trust them then? I doubt it.

So, he spreads the union message and people lap it up like milk. (He was also endorsed by them.)

I think most teachers are excellent at what they do. As a career teacher who watched others teach, I saw those who were artful in their craft and those who were not. Funny thing, the best teachers would tell you how important parents are and how much respect they have for them. Only a weak teacher wants to denigrate parents or claim that a teacher is the only “expert” in how to teach any child. Only a weak teacher is afraid of transparency and parental involvement.

We shouldn’t be surprised about the NEA stance since they went along with other government “experts” who were so good at creating the illusion of six feet social distancing, masking for safety from germs, and a vaccine that is untested but somehow effective and safe, even when it isn’t. All one needs to do is go to the local grocery store to see the leftover disciples of that myth. Remember, the Unions wanted schools closed.

So, when parents, many of them trained over decades to believe that teaching is rocket science, believe that their child’s teacher somehow became an expert on the learning needs and capacities of every kid in the class from day one of the school year, we can’t be shocked. The Unions have put a lot of time and money into that message.

Despite all the propaganda from the unions and the Progressives, people are waking up. If the lessons in a class are good for the children, are not offensive, then why should they be hidden? If a teacher can easily send plans and materials out via technology, then why can’t a parent see them? And shouldn’t that parent speak up if the content and values being taught their child are in opposition to what they believe? Or if something serious about their child’s mental and physical health is being kept from them by schools?

According to two members of the public who spoke at our local school board meeting last night, the answer is “no.” Parents should just sit down and shut up. One speaker was a parent heavily involved with GLSEN and PFLAG in our area. If you don’t know what GLSEN and PFLAG are, go to glsen.org and pflag.org. This parent was speaking about someone who spoke at a previous Board meeting about her distress that her child’s teacher was calling her child by a different gender name than the child’s actual name and gender. That parent was upset and shared her dismay with the Board because NO ONE let her know what was going on with her child.

The GLSEN parent read a statement from the local GLSEN Board shaming that parent for “outing her child in a public forum.” (I thought public shaming was bad. I guess if you agree with the purpose of the shaming, it’s okay.) The speaker went on to say that this parent had no right to know if her child was in school claiming to be transgender. And, apparently, no right to speak about it.

I wonder what would happen if the roles were reversed. The GLSEN/PFLAG speaker talked about her transgender child. Would it be okay if that child was in school telling guidance counselors that he/she was using dangerous drugs, and no one contacted the parent? Or if that transgender child was telling counselors he/she felt he/she was no longer transgender and didn’t want to be on hormone therapy anymore and no one notified the parent? I don’t think the parent would be happy.

This speaker was followed by a woman who heads a “Safe Spaces” program at Salisbury University. She had the same speech prepared about how parents should have information about their children hidden from them. She made the statement,” Transgender children know exactly who they are,” implying that they know at a very young age and that is that. If they know, shouldn’t someone let the parent know?

I guess she considers herself one of those “experts” who knows better than parents. By the way, she had a mask on, one of those big beak-like masks. She definitely listens to “experts.”

She also shamed the parent who spoke in October for “outing her child to the public.” I guess there are no safe spaces for parents who want to know what is going on with their kids and want to speak out in public.

Parents are waking up. Despite what the Unions say, or the activists promote, or the government mandates, parents are beginning to understand that this is just one big power grab and an attempt to subvert their rights and separate their children from them. They are taking their kids out of public schools to private schools, or they are homeschooling.

Parents are experts. They are experts in their children. When you live with, love, and raise someone from birth and/or an early age, you know that child better than yourself. And most parents would rather give their right arm than let something bad happen to their child. Are all parents great? Are all parents’ experts? No. But not all teachers are great and experts either. But the Unions want to excuse that fact.

Many homeschooling parents ARE experts. When a parent commits to the time and effort that goes into homeschooling, that should be respected, not demeaned by Union wonks. Parents have gone through the same K-12 schooling as every teacher in the public schools. Many of them have college degrees (some advanced) and even if they don’t, they have life experience at a job or in owning a business. Are they all experts in all contents? No. But what they don’t know, many can learn online. If they are in a homeschooling group, they can trade their expertise with the expertise of other homeschool parents. By the way, there’s no guarantee that a teacher is an expert in content either. Many aren’t.

And let’s not forget the one thing parents have that NO teacher can have, the love of a parent for their own child.

So, am I saying that homeschooling is the only way children should be educated? No. It doesn’t work for everyone. Every family has to make the decision that is best for them. It’s their right to do so. Even if the Unions and activist groups don’t like it.

That extends into the classroom as well. Regardless of the power that unions use to get people to believe that they hold the golden ticket, parents can fight back. Ask questions. Go to back-to-school nights. Attend Board meetings. I had three people with me at that Board meeting last night. I wish I had three times that. We need parents to understand that if ONE parent’s rights are being denied, all parents’ rights are being denied. Even if your school system seems to be okay, it is a strong possibility that it won’t be in the future and YOUR kid will be the one who loses.

If you forget that, look at that tweet I shared at the beginning of this post. And, watch the video below. It is 19 minutes that will change how you view schools and unions:

The Biggest Bully in School: Why Public Education Is Failing in America | PragerU

And always remember, you ARE an expert, an expert on your own child!

-Jan Greenhawk is the editor and writer of Radio Free Oxford. She can be contacted at jan417@aol.com

Thanks for commenting!!

So Now What?

By Jan Greenhawk- Editor, Radio Free Oxford

What the 2022 Mid-terms mean for those of us fighting to fix education in Maryland

As I left the Republican headquarters Tuesday night, a good friend approached me and said, ” You have your work cut out for you.” He was referring to the election results for the local school board and the fact that only one candidate we supported won.

My answer was, ” We work with what we are given.” I don’t know if that answer was satisfactory or was what he expected, but it’s the truth.

First, let me say that we had major wins on Tuesday. Despite the fact that our state just elected the most radical candidates as our new Governor, Comptroller and Attorney General, we had wins in local, state and national races. The media won’t acknowledge that, but what do we expect?

For clarity, local candidates elected to the school board were not a surprise for the most part. We got one of our endorsed candidates elected. As for the others, one is an incumbent. One of them was not endorsed by the Teachers’ Union, which could be a plus. One is a big supporter of charter schools. Only one of the elected members belongs to a radical leftist organization, Act Blue. Small victories.

Again, we work with what we are given. What that means is we have to get to know these people, hear their ideas, let them know what we think, how we disagree and possibly agree, try to get them to accept our ideas, get the FACTS and hold them accountable for their actions and decisions. It’s no different than what we should be doing with all of our elected officials, whether they were our choices or not. There is no cavalry, no superhero out there to save us, so we need to be engaged, and engaged appropriately. We are the army, the fighters.

This has to be the theme for going forward. This is not weakness or giving in. It is conducting the fight from a position of factual and moral strength.

Back to the original question. So now what? What do we focus on as we fight for our schools, parents and children? There are so many things that we need to fix, but we have to have priorities.

Number One: Fighting Covid vaccine mandates for school children. The Governor elect, Wes Moore, has made no secret that he would support “following the science” to protect citizens from Covid. For those of you who are unaware, the phrase “following the science” was used for two years to shame people into following CDC and WHO guidance that has since been proven faulty and even dangerous. It’s the phrase Larry Hogan and other tyrants used to close businesses and schools needlessly. It’s the phrase that ruined lives via closures and dangerous vaccines.

And now Moore is using it.

Moore on COVID-19 resurgence: ‘We are going to follow the science’ – MarylandReporter.com

Parents and community members need to be prepared for this to happen. In 2020-2021, the decision to mask kids and push the vaccines was made by Superintendents and School Boards. Parents could appeal to school boards to stop it. Now it won’t be so easy. If the Governor creates a mandate, local agencies will have no choice. We need to start investigating what the options are NOW for fighting it.

Number Two: Investigate and prevent the removal of the decision-making process from Boards of Education and therefore the citizens. With the advent of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, formerly known as the Kirwan legislation, decision making about what happens in local schools will be taken out of the hands of the elected Boards of Education and County Councils. What does this mean?

Previously, school systems and county governments were able to determine the budget for the schools and items funded in that budget. Approximately thirty years ago, the state inserted “maintenance of effort” into the formula. In other words, the Superintendent of Schools could designate certain big-ticket items as maintenance of effort items that were protected from being removed from the budget by the county councils. These items were protected as long as the school administration wanted them protected. The State also created minimum funding guidelines that counties had to follow. But, the County Councils had some control over items not designated as maintenance of effort.

Now the Blueprint puts the entire budget under the discretion of a State Accountability and Implementation Board (AIB) made up of appointed members who would arbitrate local education budgets and force both County Councils and Boards of Education to fund any programs demanded by the state school administration. A description:

The responsibility of the AIB is to approve state and local implementation plans, release or withhold funds to districts for Blueprint implementation, and receive reports on state and local execution of all Blueprint programs. In short, it is the oversight board that ensures the Blueprint is being implemented in the spirit of the law and that funding is reaching classrooms, educators, and students as intended. In case of conflict between the Maryland State Department of Education and the AIB, the AIB will have authority.

The members are appointed by the Governor and guess who gets to make nominations? The State Teacher’s Union. Guess who doesn’t? Voters.

Also, Republicans designed this system. Feel any better about it? Me neither.

The Blueprint is one mandate after another for local systems, including everything from how much teachers are paid, designating community schools* in the county, to how and what content will be taught, plus many other funding and policy issues.

*These Community Schools Aren’t What You Think They Are – Radio Free Oxford

This could be the reason why school systems are suddenly “streamlining” county policies and putting the policy points into Administrative Regulations. What does that mean?

For example, the discipline policy for a school system details how discipline will be carried out in the district. The policy will go through first, second and third reader and then is voted on by the elected school board. If someone has a problem with the policy, they appear in front of the Board of Education to appeal. This will change. Here is the difference between policies and regulations:

What is a Policy? – A principle adopted by the Board of Education to guide the development and implementation of educational programs and/or the management of the school system.

State law provides that a county board of education, with the advice of the Superintendent, determines the educational policies of the school system. A policy reflects principles adopted by the county board of education to guide the development and implementation of educational programs and/or the management of the school system. State and federal laws, federal laws and regulations, and regulations and bylaws of the State Board of Education are, in effect, mandated policies.

An administrative regulation is NOT voted on by the Board. Here is a description:

About Board Administrative Regulations

What is a Regulation? – A guidance and/or procedure issued by the Superintendent regarding the implementation of Board policies, COMAR, and laws relating to the operation of schools.

The Board authorizes the Superintendent to issue Administrative regulations for adopted Board policies as necessary. Such Administrative regulations serve to provide guidance and procedures regarding the implementation of Board policies, COMAR, and laws relating to the operation of schools. Administrative regulations do not require Board approval or adoption. (Source: AACPS Board Policies)

The last line in this description is the most important. “Without Board approval or adoption” means the body elected to run the schools is cut out of the process. Therefore, the public, the citizens, are also cut out of the process.

One might wonder why this is important. With all the sexualization, indoctrination, racial division, etc. in the schools as well as the trend to force parents out of the decision making for their children, these changes in the decision-making process will provide the foundation for the schools to implement whatever they want without approval or even knowledge of the public. In short, it is carte blanche for schools to do whatever they want.

It also keeps the Boards of Education unaccountable. They can blame everything on everyone else.

For example, here is the current “Home Hospital” policy for Talbot County Public Schools. Notice all the strikethroughs. These strike throughs will be removed from the policy and placed into an Administrative Regulation that the Board will have NO CONTROL OVER.

There are questions that need to be asked about this sudden move to change policies to AR’s. Who is promoting this? Why are they doing it? Is it required by the State? Whose power does this protect? What will be the recourse of the public and parents to fight regulations created in the schools? We must know the rules of the battle.

It seems that the state and federal governments, seeing that parents and community members are being elected to school boards, are trying to neutralize that movement.

Number Three: Fight back against the diversion from the intended purpose of schools, teaching academics, to a divisive, extremist agenda that has nothing to do with academic progress or growth and actually STEALS time away from academic instruction. As recent test scores showed, our children are being cheated out of the basic education the public schools once promised. This non-academic agenda is also severely damaging our children intellectually and mentally.

As stated in the following blog post, national and state test scores in Reading, Math, and Science are tragic:

“This Puts Their Futures-and Our Nation’s, at Risk…” – Radio Free Oxford

Many Progressives and the State and Federal Departments of Education want to blame this decline on the Covid pandemic and associated closing of schools.

If that is the case, then the schools should be focusing MORE on academics. But they are not. Instead, they are spending time on indoctrinating our children and implementing social and emotional learning strategies that have no positive impact on academic achievement but instead serve to make children more dependent on pseudo psychological strategies while instilling social and sexual agendas that are both inappropriate and harmful.

Our kids are being indoctrinated to death. They are being told to question the reality of their gender, our society, and their capabilities to overcome barriers. They are being told to judge each other by skin color, ethnic background, and family roots. Precious time in the classroom that should be spent on catching up with academic content is lost.

John Wilson addresses this issue as it impacts math instruction in the classroom in this podcast with Deb Filman

Equity Math: Does it Really Help Black Students? – The Reason We Learn Podcast | Podcast on Spotify

While the podcast only addresses “Equity Math,” you can apply what he tells you to other areas. While teachers are busy teaching social justice and sexual ideology, the kids aren’t learning math, reading, science, etc. And, again, they are being coerced into treatments and counseling that is harmful.

If this is the case, then why are schools continuing down this path? As we go forward, we need to not only question these practices but strongly oppose them. Board of Education members and school administrators need to know that we are there to impede and ultimately stop these agendas. We are there to promote teaching children the academic skills they need to be productive, fulfilled adults.

Number Four: We must demand transparency regarding instructional and reading materials used in schools and made available to students. It’s interesting that Progressives are more than willing to condemn groups like Moms for Liberty or No Left Turn in Education for wanting to “ban books” or restrict educational freedom while THEY have been the ones demanding that books like TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and various Dr. Seuss books are banned. They are the ones who cancel people for having viewpoints they don’t like. They are the ones who suppress the rights of parents to speak up.

The two groups mentioned above are against pornographic and racist literature in the classrooms and libraries of schools, especially when they expose our youngest students to these damaging materials. Hard to imagine that Progressives think this is okay, but they do.

It’s also interesting that school systems are using every possible excuse NOT to let parents and community members examine instructional materials and lessons. Opponents of transparency and the teachers’ union tell us, “We need to trust the teachers, they are the experts.” As a comparison, think about this.

The State of Maryland is getting ready to build a new Bay Bridge in the future. This process is under CONSTANT public scrutiny as the site is selected and the bridge and other infrastructure is designed. Imagine if the State said, “We need to trust the Maryland Transportation Authority, they are the experts,” and then told citizens they could NOT see nor comment on these plans. The uproar would be deafening.

People demand transparency and input into things like building a bridge, but are supposed to leave the education of their children to teachers without transparency? I don’t think so. Children are so much more precious than bridges.

Teaching children basic math, reading, science, history, English is not rocket science, especially with all the resources available online. Aren’t parents experts in their children? Don’t they know their children and the beliefs they want them to hold better than anyone else? How insulting to insinuate that only teachers know how and what to teach a child and that curriculum should be hidden from the eyes of those whose most precious child will be affected.

We need to demand this information in the same way we demand plans for public projects.

Finally, we cannot let the names or the parties of the people in charge change our commitment to stay on this task, stay in this fight. As a friend recently told me, “Education is the MOST important issue we must address right now.” We must set our priorities and stick with them. We don’t need to burn the system down, we need to get inside the system and implement sweeping change.

So, to answer the question, “Now what?”

I heard a preacher say recently, “It’s easy to fight when the wind is at our backs. But now the wind is against us. We have to step into the wind. This will take grace, confidence, and facts rather than faulty emotions. God has given us our different gifts for the fight. We need to use the ones He has given us.”

That’s what.

Jan Greenhawk can be reached at jan417@aol.com

Find other articles at radiofreeoxford.com

One thought on “So Now What?”

  1. This may sound like surrender, but I really think the only option at this point is to create 100% privately run and funded schools to avoid the government overreach. Too many children are being denied an education while we try to turn this ship around.

Thanks for commenting!!

The Talbot Integrity Project Farce

By Jan Greenhawk – Radio Free Oxford

Local Maryland Politics in 2022 is More About Manipulation by a Few Than Facts

The Reset Lakeside Movement is connected to the Talbot Integrity Project (TIP) and it’s a farce and distraction to keep Republicans off the Talbot County Council.

Background: Talbot County, a small county on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, has a population of about 37,500 people. One of the wealthiest counties in Maryland, it wasn’t always that way. My husband, who has lived his entire life in our town of Oxford, came from one of the many families who depended on a life on the water to survive. They weren’t rich. They weren’t the privileged waterfront residents on the main street of town or the water’s edge on the Strand. They didn’t even have indoor plumbing until the 60’s. Like so much of Talbot County back then, they were working people who would be called poor in today’s world. And they were good, God-fearing people who worked hard and mostly stayed away from the elite world of politicians.

Sometime in the late 60’s early 70’s, the DC/Baltimore/New Jersey/New York crowd made their way to our county. With them they brought million-dollar homes and Progressive attitudes. They drove the average working homeowner out of small towns like Oxford, St. Michaels, and now Tilghman. All while claiming to want to “preserve” Talbot County’s rural nature. As usually happens, when people leave one place to go to a place they like better, they end up making their new home like their old home.

This year, progressive Democrats in Talbot County, in the guise of “bi-partisanship” and the preservation of our lifestyle, want to manipulate an election so they can force progressive attitudes on voters by using a hot button issue of a development named Lakeside. Those who benefited from development just a decade or so ago, want to use it as a cause to truly change our county, and not for the best.

It’s a clever and manipulative political ruse. It’s also one created out of the arrogance and sanctimonious attitude of those who think they are superior to the common folk residents of Talbot County.

First, the issue. It’s a development in Trappe, Maryland called “Lakeside.” Ultimately it will be a development of approximately 2500 homes of Route 50 in Trappe. The development is meant to take place in five phases. The first phase, which has been approved,is to build 120 homes. Once that happens, building is paused because subsuquent phases will add homes only after the developers go back to square one and resubmit additional building for approval. It is the kind of development that can stir the emotions of anyone living in a small, rural community. It’s the perfect distraction and farce being used by a small group of people to manipulate this election to elect Progressives to the County Council. They are convincing voters that a Progressive council will save Talbot from evil land developers like those creating Lakeside.

Next, add a person who has manipulated elections before. His name is Dan Watson and despite his claim of “bipartisanship” he seems intent on assuring that Republicans don’t get elected to local office. In 2018, heading up a group Bipartisan Coalition, he worked to get a Talbot County Council President out of office. Here’s an interview with Dan on that effort:

A Conversation with Dan Watson and Bipartisan Coalition For New Council Leadership (talbotspy.org)

It worked. The Council President lost the election in what many have described as one of the dirtiest examples of a smear campaign they had ever seen locally. Did I mention she was a Republican?

This time, he’s going after a bigger prize. He not only wants the current Council President, Chuck Callahan to lose, he wants to assure that all of the local Progressive Democrats get elected and none of the Conservative Republicans do. To do that, he has created a deceptive narrative.

The Lakeside Development will be the focal point of his tactics to get that done. Enlisting a small group of 100 citizens, most of them wealthier property owners in the county who came to Talbot County from across the Bay Bridge, Dan has created a group called the “Talbot Integrity Project.”

Prior to the primary elections, this group invited candidates to sit through an interview with them. Of course, the interview was about Lakeside. Some of the candidates went to the interview, some didn’t. Those who did were immediately given an “endorsement” from the TIP. Those who didn’t were not. The transcripts of those interviews were not available to the public, nor were recordings available. One would think that the larger group would want to know why certain candidates were endorsed. A generic statement that they fit the TIP mission doesn’t cut it on the transparency scale. But transparency doesn’t seem to be the point. Here is the questionnaire sent to candidates after the primaries.

I don’t know about you but it seems that this group is asking questions about much more than just one issue. In fact, I had people who said they didn’t have to answer such an intrusive set of questions when they applied for high security government jobs.

Transparency and truth is not the mission. Political manipulation and power politics is. If it was truly about educating people on the positions and beliefs of the candidates on Lakeside and development, then there would be a posting of the candidate statements on the internet allowing people to think for themselves and make decisions about who to vote for. But that’s not available.

This is about creating a bumper sticker slogan campaign that will sway uniformed voters to vote for Democrats.

Almost all of the Democrats and only the most liberal, weak Republicans were on the endorsement list which went out on a mailer sent to all voters in the county prior to the primary election. These same candidates are currently on a big TIP sign.

The mailer alone was certainly a huge expense. There was a GO FUND ME account to support the TIP. It collected approximately $40,000 of its stated goal of $500,000. Dan Watson was listed on the mailer as the treasurer of the non-profit TIP. One thing most of us recognize is that political campaigns cost a lot of money. The “campaign” from the TIP is no different. But you can’t just go out and spend this money without abiding by election laws.

What is the legal designation of this group?

Inquiries to the State Board of Elections have not shown that this group is NOT registered as a political action committee. It is registered as a 501c4:

THE TALBOT INTEGRITY PROJECT, INC. :: Maryland (US) :: OpenCorporates

Here are the regulations for 501c4 organizations:

Types of Organizations Exempt under Section 501(c)(4) | Internal Revenue Service (irs.gov)

In short, there are regulations regarding political activities of these groups:

The IRS places specific restrictions on 501c4 organizations.

The chart below compares seven federal tax law attributes of two common types of tax-exempt organizations:

Federal tax law attributes of two common types of
tax-exempt organizations
501(c)(3)501(c)(4)
 Receive tax-deductible charitable contributionsYES NO 
 Receive contributions or fees deductible as a business expenseYES  YES  
 Substantially related income exempt from federal income taxYES  YES 
 Investment income exempt from federal income tax LTD* YES 
 Engage in legislative advocacyLTD YES  
 Engage in candidate election advocacyNO   LTD 
 Engage in public advocacy not related to legislation or election of candidatesYES  YES  

And this:

Reg. 1.501(c)(4)-1(a)(2)(ii) provides that the promotion of social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate …

The extensive mailing of campaign materials promoting certain candidates and the creation of signs, cards, etc. seems to violate those rules.

Radio Free Oxford attended a rally of about 30 supporters of the TIP on Sunday. The founder, Dan Watson, spent twenty minutes detailing his version of the Lakeside development history and the recent developments from the Maryland Department of Environment, an agency the TIP has sued. Several candidates for County Council were there, Pete Lesher, Lynn Mielke, David Montgomery and Dave Stepp. Mr. Watson seemed somewhat surprised to see Dave Stepp there since he is not one of the endorsed candidates.

After Mr. Watson finished his spiel, he then explained the next steps in their cause. He exhorted people to keep putting up their signs but also to wear stickers and hand out stacks of cards listing which candidates to vote for. He told them to each take hundreds of the cards and hand them out in parking lots and to their neighbors. He said they had tens of thousands of them. Another huge expense supporting certain candidates.

Don’t get me wrong. I have lived her forty years and I don’t want over development in this county. However, if we are going to fight over development, we should do it with truth; not exaggeration and falsehoods. And people should be able to think about the facts and what the candidates are actually saying, not some judgement made by a group of citizens who are accountable to no one. I also know that the Progressive Democrats and RINO’s on the TIP signs will not do what is best for this county in so many areas including law enforcement, education, and taxes. But I don’t think this group cares about those issues.

I believe Dan Watson cares more about Progressive ideology than he does actual areas that concern the citizens of Talbot County. While he blithely says that there are other issues, he asserts that this one development is the mother of them all. He ignores the other pressing issues facing our citizens; support of law enforcement, academic decline in our schools, higher taxes, the destruction of small business, and even housing for a younger, working population. He vainly tries to tie all of these issues to a development in Trappe. One development in one small town.

I don’t believe he is being honest about the candidates who didn’t accede to his manipulation. In fact, the very candidates who he didn’t endorse are the ones who will be the strongest knowing rules and regulations, investigating costs, and standing up for us. They won’t be like Progressives and operate on emotion and personal interests.

Dan and his group are also not being honest about what should happen if a new council should get in and suddenly stop the Lakeside Development. (Which is not possible but let’s play along for the sake of argument.) The lawyers for the developers would immediately sue and the years of legal action could cost the county close to a half a billion dollars. Who would foot that crippling bill? If residents think taxes are getting higher now, the cost of supporting the county’s time in court for this issue would make Talbot unaffordable for everyone.

Someone asked me why Watson would do this? I can’t say for sure but what I see from the outside is a man who wants to control what goes on in our county. He wants to manipulate council members. If he can’t manipulate them, he doesn’t want them elected. This why he is not supporting independent candidates like Dave Stepp and Wade Strickland. These candidates have studied the issue and understand the process and the law.

Dave Stepp For Talbot County Council – From his page: “Dave believes growth in Talbot County must be smart growth.  Growth without preparation, insight, and proper infrastructure only benefits a select few. Dave wants to ensure smart growth benefits everyone in the form of good jobs, affordable housing, and small business development. Dave believes in preserving the natural beauty of Talbot County so that countless future generations can live, work, and play here.”

Home | Mysite (citizensforwadestrickland.com):  “As a Talbot County native, I am passionate about improving our community and preserving its beauty for our future generations.

Somehow, their statements didn’t fit the TIP bill. Is it because they didn’t specifically highlight Lakeside? Quite frankly, as an issue that is under the jurisdiction of the town of Trappe and the Maryland Department of Environment, why would they? Is it because they didn’t do what he and the group wanted them to do? I know that Wade actually responded to their questions:

I personally support both Dave and Wade, but I post this information for you to read and use for your decision. Dan and his group didn’t want that to happen. They want to think for you.

As for Chuck Callahan, Dan has made Chuck out to be the “boogie man” in this affair, citing actions Chuck took on the Lakeside Development. Has Dan bothered to let anyone understand the legal facts Chuck knew about the development when he voted? Doubtful. He just wants Chuck out.

Like 2018, it seems Dan and his group want to continue to remove conservative Republican candidates from the County Council. The two Republicans listed on the TIP sign are there as decoys. They were the two candidates who got the least number of votes and made it out of the Republican primary. People question if they would have gotten through without TIP manipulation. Now he wants to take out all Conservative Republican candidates running for office. Seems as though it is a strange goal for the leader of a “bi-partisan” group.

I think it’s time, as we head to the last week of the voting cycle, that people start questioning this group, it’s leader, and their actions. We need to look at their connections to other political and activist groups. We need to know why the answers of endorsed candidates were NEVER posted for the public to see and judge for themselves. We need to know why they don’t care about other issues in this county. We need to know that this action may have violated election laws. Most of all, we need to know the truth about Lakeside and not some imaginary horror story.

Stop looking at their slogans and start thinking for yourselves!

Questions people have asked:

Don’t you care about the environment? This is about the environment: No, it’s not about the environment. The first speaker in Sunday’s “Reset Rally” said he didn’t want a development with fountains and other decorations in Talbot. He just doesn’t want our county to “look like Myrtle Beach.” So does he really care about the environment? Also, isn’t the Maryland Department of Environment the agency that controls these projects? I would also suggest that some of the landowners protesting have homes and properties that could be considered damaging to our environment with pollution. Things to think about.

Why didn’t the candidates just do the interview? Lack of trust. Why would a candidate do an interview with a group controlled by Mr. Watson when he has proven that he is biased against Republicans? As we have seen in several online interviews done by a local publication, the tendency is to take these interviews, misquote and unfairly edit them, and then use them against the candidate. And, by the way, the TIP already knew who they were going to “endorse.” The interview was a sham.

4 thoughts on “The Talbot Integrity Project Farce”

  1. Bravo! Thank you for stating the facts. Every voter should read this and then decide who really has Talbot County’s best interest in mind.

Thanks for commenting!!

Why Do Progressive Democrats HATE Parent’s Rights?

It’s always amazing how far hypocritical Progressive Democrats will go to fight everything Conservative Republicans propose.

The most recent issue is Parental Rights. We recently asked candidates to sign a “Parents Right Pledge” created by Moms for Liberty. We had many candidates read the pledge and readily sign it. By the reaction of local Progressive Democrats, you would have thought that we asked them to sign an agreement to kill cute puppies. They were apoplectic, even to the extent to publish a lie about it on Facebook. I won’t dignify that nonsense with a link. But here is the pledge:

Printable Pledge (momsforliberty.org)

Seems simple, doesn’t it? Parents wish to have rights and control over what happens to their children in school, medically, etc. They don’t want people who were not involved in the relationship that created the child, who don’t love the child as only a parent can, who don’t provide for the care and raising of that child making decisions for that child’s future and teaching that child ideas and beliefs that go against the parent’s beliefs.

It doesn’t matter if the parent is a Christian, a Muslim, Hindu, or even an atheist. They want to raise their children in the values they have. But, somehow this really bothers Progressive Democrats, to the extent that they want to take parental rights away. They want to pretend that other adults know better than parents and allow those adults to make all the decisions for kids.

I was a teacher for thirty years. I taught hundreds, maybe even thousands of kids. I coached youth sports. I valued and cared for my students. I’ll be honest, some more than others! Yet, even so, I could never love any of those children as much as their parents did. And, if the parent wanted to know what I taught their child in the classroom, I would gladly share it. If they objected to something, then we would discuss and come to a resolution probably in the parent’s favor.

Were there times when I had to defer to parents? Yes. I remember that at one elementary school we had a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses. If you don’t know their beliefs, they don’t celebrate Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving or Halloween and a variety of other holidays, don’t accept vaccinations, don’t pledge to any flag, and don’t use the cross in their worship. So, we had to adapt to respect those beliefs with their children in the classroom.

I don’t remember a single teacher or principal saying, “Hey, they don’t have the right to tell us what to celebrate with their child.” No, we just offered an alternative for the child. There was no big argument, no derogatory comments, none of that.

But now Progressive Democrats want to do exactly that. Don’t want your child to learn about vaginal, oral or anal sex in elementary school? Progressives will call you a prude and insist your child should learn that. Don’t want your child to have access in the classroom to a book that graphically describes how to give a “handie” to a gay sex partner? They will make fun of you and claim you want to “ban all books you don’t like.” Want your child to be recognized as their gender at birth? Well now you’re just a transphobe.

In a recent forum, a Democrat candidate for our County Council, Scott Kane, claimed that Conservatives wanted to ban all books, including “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I don’t know where this guy got his information, but he obviously wasn’t really paying attention.

Why To Kill A Mockingbird Should Be Banned Essay Free Essay (answerpoint.org)

(1) To Kill a Mockingbird ‘cancelled’ over so-called ‘racist white saviour narrative’ – Bing video

Why is To Kill a Mockingbird banned? – eNotes.com

Wow. Looks like Conservatives aren’t the ones who wanted this book banned. Remember that other books that were banned were written by Dr. Seuss. These weren’t Conservatives doing the banning.

Here’s Why These Six Dr. Seuss Books Are Being Pulled on Read Across America Day (newsweek.com)

In these cases, Progressive Democrats fully supported the right of parents to ban books. These books certainly weren’t pornographic like a book called “This Book is Gay.” In fact, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is a classic that has been recognized as a book that bridges racial animosity and teaches valuable lessons about love and fairness between the races. I guess Progressive Democrats don’t like that.

The book “This Book is Gay” has none of those qualities.

I am including a link to the description of it from Amazon. Be sure to read the reviews. Enlightening. You will also see all the other books recommended with it.

Amazon.com: This Book Is Gay: 9781728254326: Dawson, Juno, Levithan, David: Books

“This Book is Gay” is so pornographic that a parent who wanted to explain why it should not be allowed in school classrooms asked that children leave a Board meeting before she read an excerpt from it.

(Warning, the video here contains graphic descriptions of sex)

North Carolina Mom Reads From Graphic Book ‘Found’ In Classroom, Slams ‘Pedophile’ Teacher Who ‘Grooms Children’ | The Daily Caller

And yet Progressives lost their collective MINDS over the very thought that middle school kids would not get to read this sexual guidebook.

But let’s not get stuck on books.

At the same candidate’s forum, another Democrat candidate, Phil Jackson, said his mother was a teacher and he would never question what she taught in her classroom. That’s very nice. His mom was probably the kind of teacher every parent would love their child to have. Problem is, there are teachers out there who aren’t.

I met some of them in my thirty-year career. There was the Auto Tech teacher who, instead of teaching something like, oh, automotive repairs, allowed his students to watch porn videos in his class. Don’t believe it? It happened, right here in our county.

There was the physics teacher who created tests that included hypothetical questions about prisoners in a shower with one bar of soap. The test question was about the mathematical formula to determine how fast the subject inmate needed to get to the bar of soap and bend over to pick it up before…well, you can probably guess the rest. Again, it happened here in our county.

There was the fifth-grade teacher who allowed his class to watch him wind up a Jack in the Box over and over for thirty minutes because he thought it was fun. This was while he was supposed to be teaching reading. I know. He did this while I was observing him. It wasn’t a morally objectionable lesson, just a huge waste of time. Would parents want to know why their children weren’t learning to read? Probably. By the way, he was let go. One of the main reasons he was let go was because every day, two to three times a day, he kneeled down in class and prayed. He was Catholic. People had a problem with that.

There are other examples. Should parents have NO SAY in what was happening in those classrooms? Should the Jehovah’s Parents have to suck it up and allow the schools to teach their children viewpoints against their religion? According to Progressive Democrats, the answer is “yes.”

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think parents should micro-manage classrooms. It’s better that they get to know their child’s teacher and develop trust. But, it is not out of bounds for parents to question the appropriateness of instructional materials and books read. The materials should be available to them.

It’s important that teachers also know their boundaries. We used to teach new teachers that their personal lives were to be kept personal and that sexual preferences or activities had no business in their classrooms. The same was true for political beliefs. In fact, many of us worked very hard NOT to show our students what our leanings were. Now, we have teachers using CHILDREN to AFFIRM and VALIDATE the sexual choices of the teachers. We have teachers vowing to turn children into “social justice warriors” supporting the extreme cause of the day. That is NOT their right or responsibility.

Progressive Democrats want Conservative parents to stay out of what is taught in our schools but have no problem poking their noses into classrooms to advance their preferred agenda. Imagine the angst and furor if a Christian teacher started to teach about the life of Christ or read the Bible in a public school. You’d have to put guards on the classroom door to the keep the Progressive Democrats from driving that teacher out of the school with tar and feathers.

So, what is the answer?

First, we have to understand what is going on here. There is a concerted effort in our country to divide us. The only way they can do this is to use our schools to indoctrinate our children with dangerous ideas and monolithic thinking. Children must have their innocence destroyed in order to promote the practices of every fringe sexual preference, even pedophilia. The more the abhorrent is normalized, the better chance that those who are abhorrent will have their way with our kids. It’s what they have done in China, the USSR, Cuba, Hitler’s Germany and North Korea along with other Communist or authoritarian country.

I don’t think every Progressive Democrat wants pedophiles to have access to children, but I think they are being led to believe that the current practices in schools are innocuous and what are best for kids. If they would take the time to see the long-term effects of classroom indoctrination, they might see the truth and change their lock step compliance. Those who support these vile policies don’t want that to happen. Thus, the constant derision of those who oppose it.

I also think that many of them want to be that “cool parent” who is edgy and “woke.” Even if it harms their children.

Indoctrination – Lasting Effects on Children and Conflicts – Jerusalem Institute of Justice (jij.org)

The Super-Sexualization of Children: Time to Take Notice | Psychology Today

The Gender Reassignment Controversy | Psychology Today

How about this. How about if schools teach math, reading, science, writing, and history without bringing in every ideological cause and distortion. How about if we leave political beliefs, gender identity, sexual preferences to parents and families. Let’s be clear and open about what is being taught and not require freedom of information filings for parents to find out. How about if we hire good teachers and train them to teach content and manage students so they can learn.

And let’s make parents important partners in the education process instead of portraying those who ask questions as the enemy.

Parent rights are something everyone should be able to get behind. The fact that Progressive Democrats can’t do that exposes them as hypocrites and tyrants.

Wonder what they will do when they disagree with the instructional program? Think about it.

This election is important if you support Parent’s rights.

The candidates who have signed the Parent’s Rights Pledge can be found here:

Candidates & Elected Officials | M4L National – USA | (momsforliberty.org)

Dan Cox and Gordana Schifanelli, Candidates for Governor/Lt. Governor of Maryland

Michael Peroutka, Candidate for Maryland Attorney General

Johnny Mautz, State Delegate 37 B and candidate for State Senate

Tom Hutchinson, Candidate, State Delegate 37B

This list is updated weekly. Candidates who have signed locally are:

Chuck Callahan- Talbot County Council President and candidate for re-election

Dave Stepp, Talbot County Council Candidate

Wade Strickland – Talbot County Council Candidate

David Montgomery- Talbot County Council Candidate

Donna Nizolek – Talbot County Board of Education candidate, District 3

Todd Svehla – Talbot County Board of Education candidate, District 4

Thanks for commenting!!

“This Puts Their Futures-and Our Nation’s, at Risk…”

This statement by Beverly Perdue, former North Carolina Governor and head of the National Assessment Governing Board about recently released national test scores is chilling, but not surprising. Many of us have known for a while now that our children are drowning academically. As Governor Perdue says, “This should spur us all to action.”

‘The results confirm our fears’: Federal school test scores dropped during pandemic – POLITICO

This reference is to the recently released National Assessment of Educational Progress scores for math and reading given in grades 4, 8, and 12. The tests have been the standard for assessing the academic proficiency of our Nation’s children since 1969. Here is a description of the program:

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is a continuing and nationally representative measure of trends in academic achievement of U.S. elementary and secondary students in various subjects. It is the largest continuing and nationally representative assessment of what our nation’s students know and can do in select subjects. It was first administered in 1969 to measure student achievement nationally. Teachers, principals, parents, policymakers, and researchers all use NAEP results to assess progress and develop ways to improve education in the United States

From AXIOS:

The findings by the National Assessment of Educational Progress showed a 7 percentage point drop in math scores among 9-year-olds, mostly fourth graders, and a 5 point drop in reading scores.

  • The tests were administered from January to March in 2020 and 2022.
  • The decline in learning outcomes were starkest among lower-performing students.
  • Top-performing students — those in the 90th percentile — showed a 3 percentage point drop in math scores, compared with lower-performing students — those in the 10th percentile — experiencing a 12 point decline.

What is most shocking is that the decline is the following from NATIONS REPORT CARD:

NAEP Long-Term Trend Assessment Results: Reading and Mathematics (nationsreportcard.gov)

Average scores for age 9 students in 2022 declined 5 points in reading and 7 points in mathematics compared to 2020. This is the largest average score decline in reading since 1990, and the first ever score decline in mathematics.

Remember, this test has been given since the early 1970’s.

Educators and national officials are quick to jump on the Covid pandemic as the excuse for this horrible performance. And, while the lockdowns, virtual learning, and mask mandates have played a part in the poor performance, it’s time for the schools to admit that this is just one cause of the disaster.

That is not to say they aren’t using this data to raise their usual claims of underfunded schools and underpaid teachers. However, these claims seem to be reflex rather than reality since over the past two years, billions of dollars have been directed to the public schools in response to the pandemic. So much money that many districts have YET to spend all their funds. However, that won’t stop the Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardena, from singing the same old refrain:

“You know, we’re proposing 21 percent increase in our budget for education. We need to make sure we have highly qualified teachers in every classroom, we have programs for students after school, in the summer. We know what to do, we just have to have the urgency across the country to get it done.”

That urgency always seems to prompt more money. Even if it doesn’t get spent:

Billions in School Covid-Relief Funds Remain Unspent – WSJ

Or if it gets spent on programs that don’t help students achieve academically or to cover luxury items like turf sports fields. In California, schools spent $1.5 billion on “implicit bias training.” Washington D. C., which delayed opening schools in person more than all other jurisdictions, didn’t use the money as intended; to allow students to attend school in person or to provide more teachers. These are just a few of the examples.

Rachel Greszler, a senior research fellow for the Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget at the Heritage Foundation, said available data suggest only a third of new staff positions funded by the stimulus have gone to people providing education directly to students. The rest, she said, are mostly administrative positions.

Follow the money: How schools spent their billions in COVID-19 relief funds (washingtonexaminer.com)

So while Cardona continues to beg for more money, he cannot account for all of the $140 billion plus dollars misspent or not spent at all. It seems that lack of funding is a ridiculous excuse for the downward trend.

Others find that the failing test scores are because of other factors:

“School shootings, violence, and classroom disruptions are up, as are teacher and staff vacancies, absenteeism, cyberbullying, and students’ use of mental health services,” National Center for Education Statistics Commissioner Peggy Carr said of the latest test scores in a statement. “This information provides some important context for the results we’re seeing from the long-term trend assessment.”

Of course, each of these conditions could possibly account for the decline.

Based on anecdotal evidence it’s due to much more than that. Throughout the country, teachers and parents describe a distinct detour in classrooms from academics to an agenda of racial division, political activism, and gender confusion and indoctrination. While trying to close the gap of achievement, teachers are forced to provide lessons that have no root in content. As a former teacher, I can tell you that if you are trying to “catch kids up” academically, every single minute in class is vital, especially at the lower levels. It is frustrating and driving good teachers out of the classroom.

From FOX:

Holly Terei, who has two children in Georgia schools, joined “Fox & Friends First” to discuss how the far-left’s push to implement the woke agenda has impacted already-existing shortages. 

“It’s overburdening them (teachers),” Terei told co-host Todd Piro. “They didn’t sign up to have to implement all of these woke strategies within the classroom. They signed up to teach, and all of the SEL, social-emotional learning, the DEI that’s being forced on these teachers to implement in the classroom, they’re not psychiatrists.”

Georgia mom blames ‘woke’ push for worsening teacher shortages: ‘Not what they signed up for’ | Fox News

In Maryland, the test scores are in line, and is some cases worse, than the national scores.

NAEP Mathematics: State Average Scores (nationsreportcard.gov)

NAEP Reading: State Average Scores (nationsreportcard.gov)

In summary, 69% of Maryland’s fourth graders were at or below the basic level in Math. The same applies to Reading.

As the State embarks on the huge Blueprint for Maryland’s Future program which will spend billions of dollars on Maryland Education and could possible double or triple taxes in the next 8 years, these scores are disturbing. Especially disturbing when the State did not release state test scores for last year, citing standard setting as the reason. Science scores, which were released, were horrible.

Maryland data on student proficiency in science lag behind pre-pandemic scores – Baltimore Sun

A quick look at these scores shows that only ONE THIRD of Maryland students are proficient in science. We are not talking excellent; we are talking basic proficiency.

COVID Set Back MD In Math, Reading, ‘Nation’s Report Card’ Shows | Bel Air, MD Patch

The picture for Maryland’s Education system is dismal. And the Blueprint is designed to offer more in expensive feel-good social programs than real solutions for the achievement deficit.

So, what is to be done?

First, it’s time that educators stop focusing on teaching subjects that are not only inappropriate for schools to teach, but also detrimental to children. Students need math, reading, science and history; not woke ideology, gender identity, or political theory. Academics are what schools are supposed to do.

There are many other things that need to happen as well. Teachers’ Unions and special interests have no business dictating what is taught in public schools. Schools need to listen to parents and give them a say in what their children are taught. Schools need to get out of the medical and mental health business beyond basic referrals for those students who truly need them.

Teachers and Principals need to be put back in control of student behavior in their classrooms and schools in order to create a safe environment in which to learn. Children who cannot follow school rules and who are a danger to others must face consequences along with strategies to help them better themselves. They cannot be allowed to keep others from learning. Those who can’t change need alternative learning environments.

Special Education students must be given the services guaranteed to them under the law. During the last three years, many of these services have been deferred or, in some cases, denied.

We need the hire the best teachers who are not only well versed in content but in teaching practices. It needs to be clear to them that they are not hired to share their personal lives, alternative lifestyles or political opinions with children.

One of the main things we need to do is elect Governors, Legislators, County Officials, and Board of Education members who are going to focus on the academic performance of students in our schools and not on pandering to unions and special interest groups. It’s the only way that students will gain the skills and abilities to be successful adults who can support themselves and their families.

The “woke” agenda and constant focus on division by race, ethnicity, gender, economic status and sexual preference in the classroom needs to END. The constant indoctrination of our children isn’t moving them forward towards success, it is actually depriving them of a future at all. And it will eventually ruin them and this country.

Here are some candidates from Maryland who support Parent’s Rights and have signed a Parents Rights Pledge. Consider giving them your vote on Election Day:

coxforfreedom.com (Dan Cox for Maryland Governor)

restorefreedoms.com (Gordana Schifanelli for Maryland Lt. Governor)

johnnymautz.com (Johnny Mautz for State Senator)

patrtiots4peroutka.com (Michael Peroutka for Maryland Attorney General)

Locally, (Talbot County, Maryland) these candidates have signed the Parents Rights Pledge:

David Stepp, Candidate for Talbot County Council (davesteppfortalbotcountycouncil.com)

Wade Strickland, Candidate for Talbot County Council

(citizensforwadestrickland.com)

Chuck Callahan, Current Talbot County Council President and Candidate for Re-election

David Montgomery, Candidate for Talbot County Council

www.montgomeryfortalbot.com

Todd Svehla, Candidate for Talbot Board of Education, District 4

(toddfortalbot.com)

Donna Nizolek, Candidate for Talbot Board of Education, District 3

More names will be added when additional candidates sign on!

Thanks for commenting!!

The Title One Cash Cow: Why School Districts Want More Poor Kids

Sometimes when we focus on one particular aspect of our society, we miss the bigger picture. For example, on this blog, education is our main topic. But one cannot discuss education right now without noticing that everything that is going on in education is connected to something much bigger, much more malevolent.

I attended a Board of Education meeting Wednesday night. I attend every meeting I can because it’s important to listen to what is said and presented. Generally, this may seem harmless and of little consequence, but it rarely is.

I walked in the meeting while the principal of a local elementary school was talking about her school and all the great things going on there. But it was one statement that really struck me. She said that her school now had 41% of the student population that qualified for free and reduced meals. This means that her school will now qualify as a Title One school. She was very excited about this.

You might not understand what that means, because most people outside education don’t know what Title One means. To put it simply, if you are a Title One student, your family is considered by the Federal Government to be too poor to pay for school meals partially or in total. For school systems, Title One means big bucks.

Historically, Title One is a government program that has been around since 1965 when it was passed by Congress and signed into law by Lyndon Johnson. You remember President Johnson as the President who started “The Great Society” and the welfare program. Here is the text of the original description:

As you can see, the program was designated to help the children of low-income families. The premise was that poor children were subject to the worst schools and were at a disadvantage educationally.

It was a noble cause and was based on truth. The poorer the neighborhood, the worse the school. But, as we know, despite intent, most government programs never stay focused on their original intent or population. They expand exponentially.

In 2001, the government created two different programs, the targeted assistance program and the school wide program. Approximately 35% of Title One schools operate as targeted assistance schools which means aid is given to a specific group of students in the school. The rest of the Title One schools are school wide programs, meaning the entire school is involved. Consider these two levels as Title One Lite and regular strength.

In a targeted assistance school, students who need services are identified by staff. Schools can provide academic assistance, can hire extra staff, offer one on one tutoring, etc. only for those students. These are schools that do not hit the 40% poverty threshold.

In a school wide program, money can be spent for extra teachers, staff, etc. to help all students based on need and not necessarily financial status. These are schools that hit the poverty level of at least 40% of their students from poor families. An extensive plan must have been created in consultation with the LEA and the school support personnel for upgrading the overall school academic program. Parents and other community fellows, teachers, principals, administrators, technical assistance staff, school staff, and students must be included in planning.* Just so you know, academic planning doesn’t just include reading, writing, math, etc. It includes all the “woke” agenda woven into classrooms.

Although the Title One program is federal, money is dispersed to districts to use as they see fit as long as they operate within the Title One guidelines.

In 2022, Title One takes on a special significance because the level of poverty in a school can make a school a “Community School” with many extra bells and whistles. For example, a school will have medical services, more staff, adult education options, job training got parents, expanded pre-K, higher pay for staff, and basically one stop shopping for services. A system that has more Title One schools gets a higher percentage of other federal funds as well.

This is why a principal might be happy to have more poor kids in her school. It’s estimated that by 2027, one third of schools in Maryland will be community schools because of Title One designation. That’s a lot of extra money to spend.

Currently, the United States spends $14 billion federal dollars annually on Title One schools. The Biden Administration and Congress have increased that by $20 billion. That’s huge money and a great payoff for schools and of course, the Unions. This is why National Education Association President Becky Pringle said that President Biden and his administration are fulfilling their promise to improve the lives of the country’s most vulnerable households by providing funding that genuinely prioritizes them. Indeed, Title One investment is a continued devotion to creating a better nation for everyone through education (National Education Association, 2021). Regardless of the concentration of poverty in American schools, the fund brings kids at least a step closer to a bright future.

And it gives more money to the Unions and Ms. Pringle. Apparently, their current assets of over a half billion are just not enough to pay the bills and assure their power in government.

In 2017, Maryland schools received $2048.00 per Title One Child. Talbot County received $1621.00 per Title One child. This was five years ago. This is ON TOP of State funding.

In the meeting the other night, the Superintendent noted that every elementary school in our county was now designated as a Title One school. This seems odd in a district where the median income is $73,000 and is considered one of the wealthiest counties in our state. Just a few short years ago, only ONE elementary school was considered a Title One school. Now it is all of them. How did each elementary school suddenly have 40% of students that come from households that are considered poor?

According to Federal Guidelines, the threshold for reduced meals has gone from $37000 annual income for a family of four in 2006, to $49,025 in 21/22 to $51,000 in 22/23, a $14,000 increase. For free meals it has gone from $26,000 for a family of four in 2006, to $34,450 in 21/22 to $36,000 in 22/23, a $10,000 increase. As a comparison, the median income in Talbot County in 2016 – 2021 was approximately $73,000 and the per capita income during the same time was $49,193. The percent of the population classified as “in poverty” was 9.6%. However, the calculation for the percent of students in the poverty level is not calculated by the number of poor households whose kids attend a school, but by what percentage of children in the that school come from poor homes. So, one poor household can account for multiple children counted as poor. It’s an interesting way to calculate the percentage.

While much of the free and reduced income threshold could be tied to inflation rate, the lowering of the threshold does not directly connect to higher inflation until this year. Of course the very agencies lowering the poverty threshold are part of the administration causing the inflation.

The bottom line is if you are in the public education business, the more poor students in your school the better. It used to be educators celebrated the academic achievement of their students, and they still do to the extent they can since scores are abysmal, but now they have a bigger celebration of the poverty of their students and the money those students can bring with them.

More poor students are a big win for school systems, giving them more money, more services, and more control over people. It’s an interesting concept that feeds into the creation of “Community Schools.” Here is a description of “Community Schools.”

Edit Post ‹ Radio Free Oxford — WordPress.com

As you can see, Community Schools will allow more free services to people, and the more free stuff we give to people via the schools, the more we lock them into government control. This is all happening while public schools are losing students to private schools and homeschooling over indoctrination and vaccine/ mask mandates. With over 28,000 (3%) of Maryland students leaving the public schools since the Pandemic, the education establishment wants to “stop the bleeding” of students leaving. They also don’t want to lose funding that comes with them. As any government establishment, educators and teachers’ unions work hard to assure there is a certain population who can’t or won’t leave, poor kids and special education students. That’s another reason why schools love Title One.

The CDC vote last week to approve the addition of the untested Covid 19 vaccine to the childhood immunization schedule will cause some states to mandate the shot for any child attending public schools. Since Community Schools will be in place, they will not just mandate it, but have a mechanism to deliver it, with or without parental permission, to students. This could prompt another large exodus especially with new information coming out each day about the vaccine’s dangerous effects on kids and the fact that kids are not in danger from Covid.

Families who are hooked on the freebies in their community schools via Title One will not be able to leave, nor will they have anywhere to go. Poor families will be held hostage by the public schools to keep districts from losing federal and state funds.

I believe the average teacher, principal, administrator in the school system has good intent when discussing Title One. After all, they are tasked with educating children, rich or poor. In some ways, I see them as a victim of the system as much as the students. They are stuck in a vicious cycle of Title One funding that does very little or nothing to help students academically as proven by weak test scores. Without strong academics, their students will not have good jobs when adults and will force their children into the same system.

If you think about it, it’s the same vicious cycle created by the “Great Society” welfare state created in the 60’s. It keeps poor people poor and creates more poor people.

References:

What Is a Title 1 School? A Guide to Funding Benefits & Requirements | Research.com

U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Talbot County, Maryland

U.S. Public Education Spending Statistics for 2022 | Research.com

Title I funding for schools: Interactive maps show your state’s stakes (journalistsresource.org)

Test Score Release in Maryland: Edit Post ‹ Radio Free Oxford — WordPress.com

Teachers Unions: Edit Post ‹ Radio Free Oxford — WordPress.com

Title I | Talbot County Public Schools (tcps.k12.md.us) * The list of Title One schools does not include the school mentioned at the BOE meeting on October 19. This school was just added.

Info on the CDC vote to add Covid to the Childhood Immunization Schedule: LIVESTREAM REPLAY: CDC Covid Vax Mandate For Children, Dr. Meryl Nass, David Bell – CD Media (creativedestructionmedia.com)

Thanks for commenting!!

What I Learned at the Candidates’ Forum

I attended a candidates’ forum on Sunday, October 9th at the Avalon Theater in Easton. It was sponsored by the TALBOT SPY. I thought I knew everything I needed to know about the County Council race, but I learned interesting things at the Forum.

  1. It is vitally important to get experienced moderators at political forums. Even though the moderator, who was a former member of the Reagan and H.W. Bush administrations, was obviously a well-connected, well-spoken man, he was not a good moderator. He seemed totally clueless or indifferent to the many topics that needed to be covered in the forum. He only asked about one or two issues. He said in the beginning that he had chosen the questions and the order. That would be fine if he actually covered a variety of topics and limited candidates to their time constraints, but he didn’t. This led to long rambling responses from some candidates that didn’t answer anything.
  2. If you tell the audience NOT to do something, then you must make sure they follow your directions. The moderator told people not to respond after each candidate’s response, but they did anyway. In a highly partisan crowd, this led to some very disruptive and ugly responses from members of the audience. All while the moderator and sponsor gave lip service to civility. Not a good look.
  3. If you claim to be non-partisan, then make sure you are actually non-partisan. Quite honestly, knowing the Talbot Spy and its political leanings I predicted that the forum would be highly partisan, and it was.
  4. Require candidates follow the time constraints on answers. This was clearly not done as some candidates repeatedly when beyond their time limits despite having a clock in the back of the theater.

Those were organizational issues. Here’s what I learned about candidates:

  1. Scott Kane has no business running for Talbot County Council. From his first answer to his last, it was clear that Scott, former Mayor of Chevy Chase and the owner of the Solar Lane Company since 2012, has no clue or connection to the realities facing people of the Eastern Shore. He has not lived here that long. I’m sure his green energy agenda with his proposal to have ” a solar panel on every roof” and everyone in Talbot County driving an electric car might play well in deep blue Montgomery County, but it doesn’t here. It also seems to be a huge conflict of interest. That along with the many incorrect statements regarding books that have been banned and who is in charge of our schools shows him to be out of touch with our community. This makes sense since he feels the County Council has “no place in the public schools.” I guess he doesn’t know they approve the public-school budget.
  2. Michelle Dappert I’ve met and talked to Michelle. She graduated with my daughter. She seems like a nice girl. But her disdain for people who disagree with her would not be productive on a council that represents everyone in Talbot County, not just the people she agrees with. She was dismissive and snarky about many of the people in the room and several running for office. Michelle’s status is as a self-proclaimed “activist.” It’s clear by her comments and expressions that if you don’t agree with her, she doesn’t respect you. I chalk this up to her being in her 30’s and lacking life experience and humility. From her postering over DEI and planning to hire companies that fit her “DEI” agenda to her claim that she was instrumental in bringing computers to Talbot County Public Schools classrooms, it’s clear that she has a far-left agenda that she will promote regardless of what is best for the county. Especially when it comes to budgeting. While I am all for youth in government, it needs to be someone who doesn’t think she knows it all. Based on her giggling and scoffing at the opinions of others, Michelle not only thinks she knows it all, but she also thinks others know nothing.
  3. On the other side of the age spectrum are David Montgomery and Lynn Mielke. David, who is a lifetime D.C. bureaucrat, is obsessed with one issue, the Talbot Boys Monument that he visits in Virginia. He focuses on this while ignoring the problems that impact the lives of real people here in Talbot County; people who live outside his exclusive elite self-proclaimed intellectual followers. Interesting that as soon as he was endorsed by the Talbot Integrity Project, he began pandering to them claiming that despite their Democrat leanings, he would use them because ” the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” David has no vision for the county beyond a hunk of metal in Virginia. Lynn Mielke, who is a former defense attorney, offers solutions for the county such as creating various cumbersome committees to oversee the schools and almost everything else. This is something we already have in the Talbot Board of Education, County Council, and Town Governments. It’s also the philosophy that has grown out of control National, State and Local governments. Her opposition for big box stores was clear, but her only answer for that was generic economic support for local businesses and distance work. As another TIP endorsed candidate, she closed with a statement to appease them. Both are token Republicans put forth by the TIP because they are extremely weak and will only pull votes from strong Republicans and Conservative Democrats. And they, like the TIP, don’t seem to understand that towns have control over development in their town limits, not the county. Neither should be anywhere near our County Council.
  4. Phil Jackson is clearly appealing to the Teachers’ Union and the schools. Of course, his wife is running for re-election to the school board so that could be part of the reason he said his kids all come home “well educated and well fed” each day. Well gee, Phil, do you think that might be because no one in the system wants to upset their mother who is on the school board. Or maybe because of what you claimed at a recent environmental forum, your “privilege”? Another statement that his mom was a teacher and he would never dare to question what she taught in her classroom is a clear swipe at parents who believe they have a right to question what their children learn in the PUBLIC, taxpayer supported schools. As a teacher of thirty years, I always felt like parents had that right and responsibility to ask questions and it wasn’t an insult to me or any other teacher. Unlike Phil, I knew I was an expert at teaching, but I also knew that parents were experts on their own children. They know their own children better than any teacher ever could. He said the county schools are doing “an excellent job” which indicates he hasn’t paid attention to recent test data or what MANY teachers and parents are saying. If Phil wants to be on the County Council, he should take off his union-colored glasses. Of course, he is fully on board with Dan Watson and his TIP friends.
  5. Keisha Haythe was one of the candidates who actually connected with people in the audience. Her answers were focused and stayed on point. In fact, it seems to me that she has much more to offer than she was allowed to share. A candidate who has lived in Talbot County her entire lives, Haythe has experience in both the private small business and the non-profit arenas. Her non-profit organization HOPE helps young women prepare to compete in the workforce successfully. While some of the candidates were focused on splinter issues, Keisha was very clear about the point of economic development as job creation so our young people will be able to compete after High School and stay here to develop careers and establish families. That’s why she is focused on retaining existing businesses, farms, and watermen in our county. One comment she made that hit home was, “When my home caught on fire, the firemen and police that came didn’t ask me what party I was in. People are the fabric of Talbot County.” She is a refreshing, non-elitist voice who pledged to be partners with citizens.
  6. Dave Stepp was a candidate that the organizers of this forum obviously wanted to muzzle. Not only was he placed on the end of the stage in a corner, but he was also virtually ignored by the moderator. Nonetheless, he did his best to get out his message of supporting and promoting small businesses, supporting law enforcement, monitoring safety and strengthening academics in our schools rather than curricula that support division. He spoke about listening to parents and to teachers. Dave’s summary comment was that God gave him one mouth and two ears so he could listen more than speak. He promised to listen to the community, something a few of the other candidates might want to try. He spoke well in a difficult situation.

Incumbents:

I separated the incumbents in the forum because both of them, Chuck Callahan and Pete Lesher, were the only participants who could address what has happened in this county since they have both been on the Council. Chuck talked about all of the issues that must be decided that are not publicized. He did emphasize, correctly, that development in various towns in the county are under the jurisdiction of those towns. This clearly shows that the Lakeside issue is not one that should decide the makeup of the Council, regardless of any groups saying otherwise. This is not a single issue despite the efforts of the TIP. To say it so is dangerous. If we elect council members who are only focused on the Lakeside Development, other issues will be ignored.

Chuck talked about the new Sheriff’s office and Health Department approved by the current council as well as the $60 million dollars given to the public schools in the past year and the upcoming renovation of a county school.

Lesher focused on broadband access, clean water, and infrastructure to prevent flooding. He also talked about the effect of inflation on the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future spending, and possible tax increases that may occur because of it.

Based on the forum, the citizens of Talbot County have a huge decision in front of them. While the development in Trappe is of consequence to the citizens of Trappe, to base an election for a County Council on that issue is foolish. It’s also important that citizens look at whether or not the candidate they choose will represent all of the citizens or just special interest groups such as the Teachers’ Union and the TIP ( Talbot Integrity Project). It’s also important to make sure that we have members who will listen to all citizens with respect and not just those they agree with. We need experience, for sure, but not experience in the rarified air of the social and economic elite, but experience as small business owners and average community members. And a little humility would help too.

Note: Wade Strickland did not participate in the forum since he had a previous commitment.

*I have not included all the comments of all the candidates, only the ones I thought were indicative of how they would work on the County Council. If you want exact quotes, the video of the forum is posted online.

2 thoughts on “What I Learned at the Candidates’ Forum”

    1. Hi Francesca. The TIP is the Talbot Integrity Project a group made up of some citizens in our county that are protesting a development in one of our towns. They have chosen to endorse some candidates and not others based on interviews and/or questionnaires about the development. They are suing the people who are creating the development the group doesn’t want. The development is not near many of them. They have not registered as a political action committee but are acting as one. They are also a 501c4 and should be limited in their political activities. The head of the group is a well known liberal in our area.

Thanks for commenting!!

Don’t Get Stuck on Angry

I remember a quote from a military general after Katrina, “Don’t get stuck on stupid.” That general portrayed a public persona of action and solutions to problems. While his real character was much less than desirable, his quote stuck with me because so many times people do get stuck on “stupid” and never solve problems, they just wallow in the problem without moving forward. Throughout my thirty years in education, I’ve seen plenty of that! In my opinion, most of them are politicians and a majority are Democrats. There are plenty of Republicans like that also.

However, I see a new trend with Conservatives. They are becoming stuck on angry. While I agree there’s much to be angry about, we can’t let ourselves stay in anger 24/7.

I understand the feelings. I get angry at so many things, particularly about the indoctrination and sexualization of children in the public schools. I’m furious when our elected officials refuse to listen. But if I stay in that emotion, I’ve noticed that I don’t get any change accomplished. There are many reasons.

Folks don’t like angry people. I don’t know if you noticed, but someone who is angry all the time doesn’t motivate people to join their cause. It might work for a bit, but after a while people get tired of the negativity and move on to someone who is focused on good solutions to problems. I’ve had people tell me that the reason Trump won in 2016 was because he was angry about what is going on in our country and stated that anger. That’s partially true. But if you look at Trump, you’ll see that he spent more time providing solutions than being angry. Most of the time he was focused on pointing out which actions were need, even if you look at his “mean Tweets.” Quite frankly, most of his Tweets were funny!

The angry candidate in 2016 was not Trump, it was Hillary. We see where that got her.

Anger is disorienting. I don’t know about you, but when I am angry, I don’t accomplish much. My mind becomes scattered, and I spin my mental wheels on things that don’t make a difference. Imagine what you feel like when you get road rage. When you get road rage, you throw common sense and control out the window. All of a sudden, you are following that guy who cut you off and violating all speed limits and traffic laws. This is why so many road rage incidents end up in violent confrontations. Certainly, no one is going to deal with you when you are angry. In fact, they will probably run in the other direction.

Angry people wear themselves out. When you get angry your body reacts chemically with adrenaline. Adrenaline is great at the beginning of a life-threatening event because it is the substance that allows you to focus and escape danger. But, if you keep that same level of anger going all the time, you will eventually run out of energy to do anything, much less work to correct a bad situation. It’s why athletes can’t play angry and last the entire game!

Anger is an emotion that needs to be displayed judiciously and at the correct time. It’s like managing a class of students. If you yell at them all the time, they tune you out. In fact, strategic silences and a lowered voice are much more effective. Timing is everything. When someone is just angry to be angry, it turns people off to their message.

And while we are talking about strategy, anger doesn’t help one be strategic. Imagine if Eisenhower, in his anger over fighting against Hitler in WWII, was unable to calm his mind and be strategic. Imagine if Patton, who was the decoy for D-Day, just got angry and blew the whole operation. We’d be speaking German.

When you’re angry all the time, everyone starts to look like the enemy, even your friends. Suddenly, no one is trustworthy. When that happens, you turn on friends and allies and start making them the brunt of your anger. You not only lose friends, but you lose credibility. During the last two years, I have seen so many people get stuck in angry and all of a sudden, they dislike and distrust everyone. They isolate themselves and insulate themselves. When someone is in that mode, no one wants to be around them much less work with them. And, just so you know, there have been times that applied to me.

Anger forces you to “other” people. This means that you start making assumptions about people based on surface issues. This is the “secret sauce” of every authoritarian tyrannical government. They get their population to start judging each other by labels and not by who the people are and all of a sudden, tyranny takes over. It’s called stereotyping and I’ve seen quite a bit of it lately. On both sides of the ideological fence.

When you “other” people, you never talk with them, listen to them, and they don’t do the same for you. When we can’t do that, we lose, tyrannical government wins. To be clear, you may talk with people, listen to them and still end up on opposite ends of issues. But when that happens, at least you tried. And you probably learned something valuable about them that you can use later.

So, why is this important this year?

It’s important because we not only have mid-terms coming up, but a long marathon stretch to 2024. The Biden regime is going to hit the accelerator after the November elections, regardless of results. If we think the first two years were bad, the next two years could be worse, even if there is a Red Wave. In Maryland, we could have a Governor who is an avowed Communist as shown by the policies in his campaign literature.

It’s important because we don’t want to become what the radical left is in the fight to overcome them. Notice that every time you see one of these Marxists, they look angry. They never talk to people; they shout and name call. They have a permanent case of “road rage” and “cancel” people they disagree with. The other night, I witnessed it first-hand in a “candidates forum.” Despite being asked not to, the Progressives in the crowd shouted down every viewpoint they didn’t like. It was disgusting. Add to that the utter disdain candidates showed regarding at least half of their constituents, and you have a recipe for tyranny. One who was particularly troubling was the youngest candidate on the dais, who seemed to think she knew it all and those who didn’t accept her views were stupid. She needed more humility and less snark. Can you imagine how she will treat people if she has power?

Problem is, I am seeing more Conservatives take this same tactic. I agree that we have to be aware of what is going on, be engaged and be ready to fight. But we have to start from a place of common sense, of stating facts, of fighting with solutions. It’s the only way that we can win long term. Constant anger won’t work. We have to show ourselves as strong, humble AND civil.

So, what can we do if we are angry and want change?

Dan Andros of FAITHWIRE gave some suggestions. Here are some of his ideas and mine:

  1. Let your anger be the spark for your action, but not the total plan.
  2. Stay away from people who live in anger. Ally yourself with action-oriented people who want to positively solve problems.
  3. Don’t sink to the tactics of the left. Remain calm when they goad you, call you names, or accuse you of wrongdoing. Use facts and reason.
  4. Allow people to have different opinions. Listen. You don’t have to give up your beliefs just because you listen.
  5. Don’t dismiss and stereotype people on surface characteristics.
  6. Pray each and every day for the strength to do what is right.
  7. Be a role model for others in how to act and react.
  8. Be kind to yourself and your friends. Period.
  9. Don’t be afraid to let toxic people out of your life. It’s not easy, but sometimes it is what’s best for everyone.
  10. Use your anger judiciously. It’s like salt, if you use it too much it ruins the dish. Be strategic.

People say to me all the time,” Jesus was angry at the cheating money changers at the temple and overturned tables and cleared the temple with a whip.” It was definitely righteous anger and He displayed it. But He spent most of his life trying to convince people through his kindness and forgiveness. He didn’t live in anger.

We have to try to do the same. It’s hard. It’s a challenge for me every day.

I’ll get there.

James 1:19-20 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” God’s way of dealing with anger is to be slow to anger.

” In your anger do not sin.” -Ephesians 4:26

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